Yeohlee: Yeohlee’s architectural collections always have a severe element. Often that’s a strength, and sometimes a flaw. But this season, she gave even her most streamlined looks a lighter touch and a dose of whimsy that was just right. A steel and pale gray prairie skirt; a sleek jumper, and overalls in gray flannel or in herringbone wool under a riding jacket fit right in with the season’s All-American direction.
There were also terrific coats, both short and long, with removable capelets, some of which, depending on the fabric, evoked either the wild West or shades of Sherlock Holmes. As for suits, Yeohlee’s were younger and sassier than ever with boldly flared pants matched with crisp little tailored jackets. But most of all, it was the delicate touches she added to stark shapes that marked the designer’s new approach: For instance, scalloped trim on lean tunics and the surprise of ruffles on black or oxford gray wool tops.
Chaiken: Every so often, a designer finds a moment, a season or a year that’s perfectly tailored to his or her style. For Chaiken designer Jeff Mahshie, this fall, with its Americana mood, is it. The clean sportswear he showed on Monday afternoon looked great. He took basic silhouettes and made them pop, transforming them into unexpected shapes in luxury fabrics. Cases in point: Striped rugby shirts morphed into bold mink tops and sporty beaded dresses; carpenter pants were cut for day in cotton canvas and for evening in satin, and peacoats dropped their sleeves to become cool vests. Although a few of the fabrics looked too stiff for the generally soft feeling of the collection, this was a minor flaw.
Carmen Marc Valvo: Valvo just goes on evolving. And he’s come a long way. Beginning years ago with too many borderline-trashy looks, he then moved rapidly on toward the tasteful, and even further to the sporty-elegant. For fall, he created his strongest collection ever, comfortably balancing his all-out evening looks with those that show a sure-handed sportswear touch. The best examples: cabled cashmere pullovers or silk tunics paired with lace pants or long, fluid lace skirts. Classically evening, but nonetheless glamorous, were the black gowns that closed the show. The shapes, workmanship and details — a diagonal pleat here, an Empire band there — were beautifully executed.
Custo Barcelona: What’s new in the wacky world of Custo Barcelona? Quite a bit. Designers Custo Dalmau and his brother David made their mark with colorful Ts in a patchwork of far-out prints, and this season they showed both an expanded women’s line and a complete men’s wear collection. For the ladies, coats were the latest addition, ranging from unusual photo-printed Empire looks to basic three-quarter-length overcoats. Adding a Seventies spin to the line, the Dalmaus sent out loads of patchwork denim skirts and flared denim pants — perfect paired with all those bright tops. But if color’s not your thing, not to worry. There were also cool pants in tan corduroy, ivory sweaters and plenty of black.